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Japan 13, Sendai 8, U.s. 6, Tokyo 5, Us 5, Markey 3, Nbc 3, The City 3, New York 3, United States 3, Thomas Roberts 3, Libya 3, Ian Williams 2, Robert Bazell 2, Tempur-pedic 2, Subaru 2, Lee 2, Msnbc 2, Campbell 2, New Jersey 2,
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  MSNBC    MSNBC News Live    News/Business. Live news coverage,  
   breaking news and current news events. New.  

    March 13, 2011
    12:00 - 1:00pm EDT  

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water pouring in, flooding cars and everything in its way in miyako, japan. more amazing pictures next. hi, everybody. great to have you with me today. i'm thomas roberts. this is the continuing coverage of the disaster in japan. it's 12 noon in the east and 2:00 a.m. monday in japan. three major stories developing now in that country. up first, sobering words from japan's prime minister. he says the earthquake and tsunami disaster is the nation's worst crisis since world war ii. meanwhile, workers at a nuclear power plant hit by the earthquake and tsunami are trying to keep temps down to prevent the disaster from grewing worse. the escalating crisis includes the threat of multiple meltdowns. more than 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate a 12-mile radius around nuclear plants. japan's chief cabinet secretary says nine people tested positive for high radiation levels on their skin and clothing. we'll get more on the situation that is unfolding in japan.
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nbc's robert bazell is in tokyo. >> reporter: the images continue to make a huge impact on everyone's lives, constantly on television and these are people's relatives, friends and countrymen. beyond that, the other piece of big interest here is the nuclear power plants. today the ministry of energy made an announcement that they were pumping sea water into both of the troubled plants, numbers 1 and 3. they seemed to be successful in number 3 though there was an explosion in a building that wasn't the containment vessel. it was an explosion of hydrogen in a building that housed the containment. le that let more radiation into the air. both are leaking small amounts of radiation as they put water over the nuclear materials to try to get it cooler.
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the nuclear reaction was stopped after the earthquake. it's interesting that these power plays were designed for an earthquake up to 5 times less powerful than the one that struck. that combined with the tsunami that knocked out power plants and backup batteries shows what many people say was a design flaw. it doesn't look like a significant amount of radiation will be released but it is something everybody is watching. of course in the 12-mile area, 200,000 people have been evacuated which may have been an abundance of caution from a government dealing with this horrible tragedy. it shows they are taking it seriously. back to you. >> thank you very much. we'll get more on the news that a partial meltdown may be under way. at least one nuclear reactor in japan. david, friends of the earth, good to see you today. >> good to see you. >> the problem has been overheating. there hasn't been the power to
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pump cooling water into the reactor chambers 1 and 3, but they are using sea water. what's your reaction to hearing that seawater is being used to try to cool and keep these raek t -- reactors contained? >> this is a kind of hail mary pass, not anything anyone has suggested before. the reactors weren't designed for saltwater to be used in them. we are in an area that speaks to the dramatic urgency of the situation. when the japanese government says we are facing a partial meltdown, that's grim. >> damon, as i understand it if the rods melt together the material will burn through into a concrete casement. shouldn't that contain it then? >> well, it's very difficult to know. we don't know what's going on inside the reactor. in both reactors, some of the fuel has probably already started to melt.
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that's why we are calling it a partial meltdown already. if what were to happen is the temperature continues to build and the steam is built up in the reactor and we have an explosion like the kind of explosion we had yesterday, what you can have is a situation where you have less water in the reactor, more melting and that leads to the full scale meltdown, the so-called china syndrome, we are terrified about which means the fuel is burning through the bottom of the reactor. >> i want to walk everybody through what should happen. say the plants shut down and the backup diesel generators begin pumping water. the quake knocked out the electricalle grid and the tsunami put the generators off line. do you think its could have been avoided as we heard from robert bazell that this is a design flaw? >> i think there are design flaws in this reactor as there are in many reactors.
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in addition we have an extraordinary accident here. one of the questions that's raised is how do you plan for serious accidents when you have nuclear power but ultimately a question that the terrible images poses is this is the cost of nuclear power. are we willing to accept the cost? >> japan's nuclear safety agency rates the event at a 4 on an international scale of 7. do you think that's an accurate assessment? >> you know, i think that it's way too early to tell. i don't think those numbers really suggest the mag my tuesday of the accident nor do they suggest really what's going on in the ground which is hundreds of thousands of terrified japanese are worried about their families or worried about kids right now. evacuation of 200,000 people is an extraordinary thing and now we're seeing numbers of people who actually have been constitution tam nated by -- contaminated by radiation. people are scared. >> understandably so.
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thanks for coming. the situation in japan is renews the debate over nuclear power at home. chuck todd asked new york senator chuck schumer if he's rethinking a comment where he seemed to support the expansion of nuclear facilities. >> we're going to have to see what happens here, obviously. it's still -- still things are happening, but the bottom line is we have to free ourselves of independence from foreign oil and the other half of the globe. libya showed that. prices are up. our economy is being hurt by it or could be. i'm still willing to look at nuclear. as i have said, it has to be done safely and carefully. >> let's bring in mike viqueira. is the incident going to add momentum to what the energy debate is on capitol hill? >> reporter: i think it will add volatility. it's interesting, thomas. president obama himself now, for the past two state of the unions promoted nuclear power.
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this nation has not sited a new nuclear plant in years. there weren't any licenses being granted to build any new plants. now there are licenses being granted. $36 billion the president proposed in loan guarantees in the budget for next year. these events are sure to make that issue yet more contentious. as it stands now, this nation gets about 20% of its electric power from nuclear power. it's a measure, incidentally of how resource-poor the nation of japan is with the nuclear allergy, the well-known historical reasons for that. japan has always shied away from any issues that have to do with nuclear energy but they get 30% of electricity from nuclear power. you're right. i think you will have representative ed markey on later today. i see where he's proposed a moratorium until safety issues can be studied more.
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there are 104 nuclear plants in the united states now. they are talking about advocates for nuclear power. 65 more around the world over the course of the next ten years including three in the united states. so while there is sort of a renaissance it's been called for nuclear power after 1979 and three mile island and 1986 in chernobyl set it back there is more interest now in building nuclear power for the reasons senator schumer mentioned -- to wean ourselves from foreign sources of oil. that will be called into question. that's obvious at this point. >> mike, real quickly off topic of japan, i want to talk to you about march 18. we are starting a new work week in washington, d.c. one week out from a potential government shut-down. >> right. all sides have come together late last week talking now about a three-week extension funding the government for another three weeks. remember, we were sitting here
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two weeks ago talking about a possible shut down on march 4. they extended it to the 18th, this friday. now another three-week egs fengs. reflecting -- extension. as a political, practical and economic matter, either side in this -- all three sides actually. republican senate dems and president obama want a shut down. too many variables and too muchle potential damage to the economy. they are trying to determine how to fund the government. >> thank you. there is a massive relief effort pouring in from around the globe concerning japan. u.s. troops are loading rice and bread onto helicopters for air lifts into the disaster zone. search and rescue teams from dozens of countries are ready to respond. officials warn it's a race against time. >> we know there are miraculous survivors many days after an incident like this. but we do know the longer time goes on the less likely it is
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we'll find survivors. >> there is new video of a rescue today as a man was pulled off a floating pile of debris. many thousands of people are missing. also overseas in libya, moammar gadhafi's forces continue to reclaim territory from rebels. libyan state tv is reporting that pro-gadhafi forces have retaken a key oil town in the east. jim maceda is in tripoli for us uh. what's the latest on the ground? >> reporter: hi, thomas. things are moving quickly on the front line. it's so fluid it's hard to keep up with events. we were brought yesterday to ras lanouf thinking we would see the front line. there were no more soldiers there that had then already within hours of our arrival moved on another 100 miles to the east in a town, a very
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important oil port. we assume it was the front line, but then there were reports throughout the day that now the rebels have been pushed out and have taken what they could take with them -- mostly ammo in the backs of the pickup trucks that survived attacks from air and sea. they are now another 40 miles to the east under constant punishing and relentless attacks again. that's the last key town before benghazi. this will have gone full circle and we expect a shaping-up of what could be a battle royale in benghazi. there has been a set-back today for the pro government loyalists, if you will. that's in the town of misrata. the third largest city in libya. because gadhafi wanted to break a stand-off that lasted a week brought in the 32nd commando
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brigade. it didn't work. at least 30 soldiers basically bolted. they defected to the other side when given the order to shoot on civilians. that will be an important symbolic blow but not likely to change the fact that like zawiya in the west, it will likely fall in the days ahead. back to you. >> thank you, jim. more than 100 powerful aftershocks being felt in japan. look at these images. could one be big enough to cause another tsunami? we'll talk about that. then these stunning pictures before and after the tragic tsunami hit japan. wait until you see the difference.
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we are getting incredible before and after images from japan. take a look at the city of sendai last april. now you can look at the tsunami-ravaged city, photo taken yesterday. just a few homes remaining. the new york times website posted the original images. amazing to see exactly what took place in the city of sendai. the shaking is not over. aftershocks rock parts of japan. more than 150 and counting still. dr. david applegate is a senior adviser for earthquake and geologic hazards at the usgc. good to have you on today. can we determine how long these aftershocks will continue going on for such a massive quake or is it just unknown? >> what is known is that aftershocks decay what we call
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geometr geometrically. with each day there will be fewer. but you can have them for months and even years. we have already had close to 200 over magnitude five. we had 30 larger than magnitude six and one at magnitude 7. so continued shaking is a very real probabilitile. >> i know for a lot of people who already have frayed nerves from what they had to live through what threat do aftershocks pose? could they trigger another type of event like the tsunami? >> it's a trade-off. many of the aftershocks have been offshore which, of course would increase the potential that one of them would be large enough to generate another tsunami. but the trade-off is that it's the onshore events of which there have been some, for the smaller events that wouldn't generate a tsunami but they will
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have strong shaking in localized areas. it was just magnitude 6.3 earthquake that destroyed the city of christchurch in new zealand. >> they were able to warn some citizens before the quake began, giving them valuable seconds to prepare. is there a time when we can expect technology toed vance to the point where there are minutes of preparedness for people to be able to get evacuated? especially in dangerous spots? >> well, japan is the most advanced in the world in terms of what we call earthquake early warning. at this point it's limited by essentially the distance that the person you are trying to warn is from the quake itself. essentially you're using communications at the speed of light trying to outrun the strong shaking intensity. now potentially, you can get more warning than that. certainly on the tsunami side for distant coasts. this is really not a prediction
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of earthquake. this is an earthquake that's already begun, but you are reaching populations that are at some distance to it. that limits it. but as you said, every second counts. it enables people to take the steps they have been trained to do. drop, cover and hold. with critical systems shut down and whatnot. >> thanks for coming on. we appreciate your time and information. >> sure thing. >> for more reporting from the quake zone including the story of a victim rescued nine miles out at sea, log on to msnbc.com. coming up as japan struggles to avert a nuclear disaster many wonder how prepared we are from nuclear threats in the u.s. which areas in the country are vulnerable? answers straight ahead. and dozens evacuated from a new york hotel after guests said they felt dizziy. we'll tell you what the police found at the scene.
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incredible new pictures from sendai, japan, the city oh at the center of the disaster. raging fires have filled the sky with thick smoke as rescue efforts continue across the region. homes across the coastal community have been completely destroyed there. all right. back at home the rain may be gone in northern new jersey. fear of flooding isn't over yet. two days of torrential downpours soaked the region. a lot of people were forced to evacuate and now as many wade out of the mess. emergency officials are keeping an eye on the state's waterways and river banks. the wep's eric fisher gives us an ep date from little falls, new jersey. not so little falls. >> reporter: big falls today, thomas. the water here is raging. this is a river that took the longest to crest. it crested this morning. it will take the longest to go down. take a look at what we are watching. this is the poour power of water. we have seen too much of that the last few days f. the water
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came in contact with any objects the object wouldn't be around long. that's headed to patterson, new jersey, where they expect significant flooding. unfortunately for folks on the banks of the passaic, it is not expected to go below major flood stage until tuesday morning. that means people can't go home for days. even with dry weather today, tomorrow and tuesday. it will be a difficult time. people trying to go to work. there are road closures to talk about and when the water recedes people say it's an annual tradition unfortunately they have to go through, get new appliances, replace carpet and replace walls. it's happened year after year. it seems they have the worst luck. this year adds another to the tally. this crest was the fifth highest on record for the passaic river. >> the tragedy in japan has many wondering how prepared nuclear reactors are here in the united
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states. massachusetts congressman ed markey joins me next. and police investigating claims the bus driver may be to blame in a deadly bus accident in new york. the latest coming up. with a kiss of golden honey. and the same calories per serving as special k original. who knew 120 calories could taste so delicious? so, try honey roasted, honey bunches of oats!
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good morning, unequaled inspiration. >> ( heartbeats ) hi, everybody. i'm thomas roberts. here are the top stories at the bottom of the hour. in japan, the misery worsens. fears of nuclear catastrophe as strong aftershocks rock that country and millions are left without power or clean water. tens of thousands of labor protesters gathered in madison, wisconsin, yesterday. police estimated the crowd at between 85,000 and 100,000. protesters say the next fight will be at the ballot box. almost 80 people evacuated a new york hotel on saturday. many guests reported feeling dizzy. police found a carbon monoxide leak on scene. i want to take you live to lee cowan in tokyo. what's the latest you are hearing about the situation
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involving the nuclear power plants? >> reporter: well, as we were talking about yesterday we have made our way to the west up through a couple different mountain passes. we are now in namagata which is to the west of the quake zone and tsunami zone. it's the only thing that's being talked about on the radio. there is a lot of concern and fear. i have to be careful. the government is still insisting that they have it under control, they have a controlled cool-down that is in what they call safe levels but they say employees that were working at the plant have been exposed to levels of radiation. they have not excluded the evacuation area around where the plant is. it's still at about 12 miles from the plant. about 20,000 people were
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evacuated. a lot of people suggest the exclusion zone should be bigger, encompass more evacuations at this point. but officials with the nuclear safety agency here in japan say at this point the cool-downs are going the way it's supposed to. there is talk of a partial melt-down. yes, there was damage to the core. they are not really calling it a meltdown. so it's a little bit semantics, i think, to some extent. certainly that's not the case within the scientific community. they know what's going on. in terms of what the people are getting i think there is more fear and less facts than people would like. >> lee, you said you moved out of tokyo into a different area. what was it like on the roadways and what you're seeing now two days after the earthquake and tsunami? >> reporter: well, it was pretty -- it was a nightmare getting out of tokyo because many people are trying to get out to various parts of the country. not necessarily people headed to
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the quake zone but there were relief supplies leaving tokyo, but not a lot. not as many as we would expect. since the roads along the coast where the tsunami hit are some of the harest hit areas we tried to take a different route up and around which is what a lot of people were doing. the traffic was pretty bad. fuel was a major problem. virtually every gas station was either closed or had a long, long line. we waited about an hour and a half to get enough gas in our car to get here. we stopped at store after store trying to find water. there was no water from the convenience stores. they do have them on virtually corner here. we walked into one and there was nothing on the shelf except hair spray and shaving kits. snack foods, everything was taken off the shelves. but damagewise, we haven't seen a lot. through the mountain passes
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there were areas where the road had buckled. you could see destruction not necessarily to the bridges themselves but areas around the bridges. it was safe to go over them . but in terms of damage we haven't gotten to the hardest hit area yet. it's so difficult to get in and out. >> lee, we'll let you get back to work. appreciate it. >> thanks, richard. >> the nuclear industry in the united states is watching the events unfold in japan. joining me now is democratic congressman from massachusetts ed markey. he sits on the energy and commerce committees. as you know the u.s. has 104 nuclear power plants. are you concerned a natural disaster like in japan could cause a similar situation here? >> well, for example, the power plant in california is only built to with stand a 7.0 earthquake. the japan earthquake is an 8.9
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which is 100 times greater. so, yes, there should be concern and we should go back now and do a review of all of the design, safety protections, especially the parts of it that are going to be needed in order to shut down a plant in the event that an earthquake hits a plant in our country which is on a fault. >> in today's washington post an energy advocate makes comparisons to the bp oil disaster saying the problem with bp is they didn't have plan b. this was alex marion from the nuclear energy institute. he says, we have, i would say, sufficient defense. we have plans b, c, d and possibly e. seeing what happened in japan do you think the safeguards are reliable? >> i passed a law in 2002 requiring that potassium iodide be distributed in a 10 to
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20-mile radius around nuclear power plants in our country. it is law now. the bush administration under pressure from the nuclear industry has refused to distribute potassium iodide, especially to protect children and pregnant women, and i think it is now important for the obama administration to, in fact, distribute the potassium iodide. that is the protection for plan b and c in the event that something does not happen. in fact, right now at the nuclear regulatory commission there is a proceeding that will allow for new nuclear power plants to be built called an ap-1000 plant which one of the top nuclear scientists at the regulatory commission has said is so vulnerable that it would crack like a glass cup in the event of an earthquake or an airplane, terrorist attack from al qaeda hitting the plant. so this is an eight-page letter which i sent to the nuclear regulatory commission seven days ago in anticipation of an event like that which has occurred in
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japan. we have to be very careful that we do not allow boosterism to lead to complacency and disaster here in the united states. this is a warning to us. we have to be very, very careful. we should have a moratorium on new nuclear power plants being built on seismic faults as they are in california. we have to build in greater safety protection. we have to distribute potassium iodide around nuclear power plants so we don't wind up with the panic we are seeing in japan now. >> i want to show everyone. we have an earthquake hazard map from the u.s. geological survey. do you believe our nuclear facilities are properly prepared to handle a major earthquake? i know you said you would like to see all of them under review. >> yes. they should go under review. this is a warning to us. we now have an opportunity to put in place protections that are going to be needed in order
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to ensure that there is full evacuation with potassium iodide around nuclear power plants in our country. we have to ensure that we do not allow for the construction of new nuclear power plants on seismic faults or with designs that are vulnerable to earthquakes which is what is now happening at the nuclear regulatory commission. we have to listen to what is happening in japan and protect ourselves and our people against those catastrophic consequences. >> thanks for coming on. we appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> much more on the disaster ahead including how relief agencies are helping out? we move on to another story we are following today. no charges have been filed yet, but police say a deadly bus wreck that killed 14 people on the outskirts of new york city saturday morning is being treated as a criminal investigation. nbc's mara schiavocampo joins me with the latest on the story. >> reporter: hi, thomas. the bus was less than 20 miles
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from its destination in chinatown when the accident happened. police say a tractor-trailer may have been involved but they are investigating claims that the bus driver may have been to blame. in the blink of an eye early saturday morning a weekend leisure trip turned to tragedy. officials say the worldwide tourist bus was returning from a casino in connecticut when it swerves, possibly to avoid a tractor-trailer crashing into the guardrail and skidding 300 feet before flipping onto its side and sliding into a sign post. the pole sliced the bus nearly in half, killing more than a dozen and injuring all 32 passengers on board, a scene that horrified on-lookers. >> they said this is horrible. you don't want to look at this. many of them, i believe, were even crying saying, oh, my god. >> reporter: law enforcement tells nbc news some passengers say the bus driver, identified
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as ofidel lre. williams may be blame. he was driving erratically. >> going forward the accident reconstruction and forensic teams will be interviewing witnesses to try to pull together pieces of what occurred here. >> reporter: piecing together exactly what happened in an accident that shattered so many lives. according to the federal motor carrier safety administration, drivers from the bus company have previously been cited for fatigued driving. the company released a statement saying they are heartbroken about what happened and they will cooperate fully with investigators. thomas? >> thank you very much. drivers at home already feeling pain at the pump. how much worse could it get? we'll look at how the disaster in japan may affect the already skyrocketing oil prices. take a h i noticed i was having trouble. climbing the stairs,ke a h working in the garden, painting.
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japanese troops are leading the search for survivors but even the military couldn't
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escape the disaster. look at these damaged fighter jets at an air force base in one of the hardest hit regions. they were slammed into buildings covered with mud. japanese soldiers have been deployed in aid efforts there. the disaster in japan could have a huge impact on oil prices which could mean more pain at the pump for americans. we have been seeing the quake forcing the shut-down of refineries in nuclear power plants in japan. if they can't re-open soon analysts say this and the rebuilding efforts could lead to a surge in demand. japan uses more than 4 million barrels of oil a day, second only to the u.s. joining me now is bart shulton of the commodities futures trading commission. good to see you. we have a disaster in japan we are covering. the political upheaval in the arab world. how are these events affecting fuel prices as we watch them tick up in the u.s.? >> well, we have seen the energy prices going up for the last
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several months, thomas. certainly as more concerns about energy worldwide we're going to see them continue. i'm concerned about ensuring that we are doing everything we can domestically to make sure there is no price gouging at the pump. that's with the federal trade communication and at the commodity futures commission ensuring there is no manipulation in the markets or an excessive concentration of speculation. we're on the case, but there are things we need to do. we're working on it. >> let's look at prices now. aaa says the current national average of gas is 3.56 per gallon. a month ago it was at 3.12. last year it was 2.78. how much of the rise is influenced by the actual supply and demand for gas versus what you're talking about -- the speculation and markets betting on which way energy is going to go? >> right, thomas. gas is up 21% so far this year
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alone. crude oil is up 11%. remember back to 2008 when people thought speculators might be having an impact when gas was over $4 a gallon and crude oil reached 147.20. we have a 64% increase, thomas. a 64% increase in the positions of speculators since that time. so our job at the cftc is to put in place a limit on how much the speculators control the market. we were supposed to do it in january. we need to do better. hopefully we'll put the positions in as soon as we can to ensure that these speculators aren't helping to push price up. i can't give you a quantity for how much they contribute, but i can tell you they are not the cruise control on gas and oil prices but i think they are tapping the gas pedal, thomas. >> is this prepping us for seeing, as we get into the summer, the high driving season? this is only march.
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3.56 is the average price per gallon now. is this just the worst is yet to come? >> well, prices look like they are going to increase. again, thomas, we aren't price setters. our job is to ensure that the markets are free, fair and they operate efficiently and effectively. that's what i'm concerned about now, that we have appropriate limit sos somebody with a large footprint in the markets, a huge position. 15, 20% of a market can't contort prices and push them up. as i say, i think speculators are having an influence and tapping on the gas pedal. we need to get position limits in place. we need to do it now. >> all right, bart. thanks for coming today. appreciate your time. on the other side of the break, with millions in japan injured, displaced and left without basic resources, where should relief workers start? the challenge is ahead for the international effort that's now under way in japan's most devastated regions. plus, dramatic images from japan continue tole roll into
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welcome back, everybody. we are getting new, dramatic images from one of the hardest hit cities in japan. the city of sendai is completely unrecognizable after the tsunami obliterated cars, homes and everything in its path and as survivors try to comprehend damage around them, they are searching for missing loved ones. nbc's ian williams has more from sendai. >> reporter: it remains difficult to reach the worst affected areas so we traveled as far north as the helicopter could take us. then a further two-hour drive brought us to sendai, the closest to the epicenter of friday's huge quake. the muddy and shattered remains of homes and vehicles swept away by a tsunami that reached around two miles inland, destroying
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just about everything in its path. one of the worst affected areas, this industrial and housing zone around the airport. this is the parking lot of the sendai flying school. now amid wrecked cars sits this training aircraft, dumped here by the wave, swept from the hangars over the back. soldiers and rescue workers scoured the area on the ground and in the air. the authorities say they found 300 bodies in just one area close to here. we found desperate relatives searching for missing family members. this couple looking for a sister. others struggle to navigate around a neighborhood brutally reshaped by the force of nature. [ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: the ground's fallen by two feet up there this man warns. you can't go that way. there is no power, no water and shops that remain open are swamped. this couple searching for milk and diapers for their 1-year-old daughter.
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[ speaking in a foreign language ] >> reporter: i saw the tsunami coming. i grabbed my baby and fled. as we filmed, panic struck the neighborhood. emergency vehicles warning through blaring loud speakers that there is a tsunami coming, a tsunami. move to higher ground. we joined the exodus though thankfully the surging water didn't return. it was a false alarm but that's little comfort to battered and traumatized city. ian williams, nbc news, sendai. >> now to a closer look at the world's effort to get help to the japanese people. suzy defrancis is here from the american red cross. good afternoon. i understand the red cross is offering assistance to the japanese red cross. what are you hearing about the situation on the ground there and how tough it is for them to get aid supplies to people who need it most. >> well, thanks, thomas, yes. we are in constant contact with our counterparts in the japanese
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red cross. right now the most immediate need is to take care of survivors who may have been wounded or injured. they have about 86 medical teams out in the affected area. that number is growing. they had 50 teams yesterday. up to 86 now. they are going around and treating people, giving them first aid, medical services. for instance, they are seeing people who ingested a lot of sea water, who almost drowned. they have that in their lungs. there is risk of pneumonia there. they are seeing people with burns or smoke inhalation. they are doing the basic treatment, getting people to hospitals if they can. then there is all the people who, as you said, have been displaced. weist mate 300,000 people have been displaced either because they have been evacuated or lost their homes. so we are supporting the japanese red cross is supporting the government in these evacuation centers. we are distributing blankets, some 12,000 blankets yesterday. we are distributing hygiene kits so people can clean up.
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and then we'll also provide some mental health counseling because obviously these people have receivedle multiple shocks. they may have lost loved ones. their homes, livelihoods. >> mm-hmm. we are looking at pictures, images of what people are having to live through now. when we talk about other disasters, like haiti, for example. a country that had a much different infrastructure from japan. how do the relief efforts compare and contrast. >> of course in haiti where you didn't have the strong building codes, in japan you had pancaked buildings. so search and rescue was a big part of that. i think with japan obviously because they have had strong building codes, a lot of buildings didn't collapse but then the tsunami came. that compounded the fact and may mean that people who might have been rescued without a tsunami couldn't be rescued now. so i think you also have the issue of, you know, concerns
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about the nuclear plant. so these people have had multiple shocks, trauma. i will say that the japanese red cross is a very experienced relief organization. we assisted them with financial assistance during the kobei earthquake in 1995 and they sent us financial assistance during 9/11 and hurricane katrina. we have a very good relationship with them. they have said they would be grateful for assistance. we are asking people to give if they can. >> i was going to say for those watching who feel compelled to do so, what's the best advice? >> go to our website, red cross.org to make a donation. or you can pick up the cell phone and text redcross to 90999 and that allows you to make a $10 donation to the red cross. >> hopefully people wille feel compelled to do so. the images out of japan are really stunning and heartbreaking.
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thank you. >> thank you, thomas. >> at the top of the hour we'll take you to japan for the latest on the likely meltdown at a nuclear reactor and less sons learned from the three-mile island disaster.
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which is a true american value for people with diabetes like me. [ male announcer ] accu-chek aviva. born in the usa. right now on msnbc, meltdown fears intensify in japan. new concerns about a damaged nuclear power plant. new numbers on how many people may have been exposed to radiation. take a look at this. new amateur video that shows the moment the tsunami hit. hi, everybody. good afternoon. i'm thomas roberts with msnbc's continuing coverage of the disaster in japan. several key developments in japan following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. japan's prime minister puts the scope of the disaster in perspective with a sobering assessment. he says the country is facing its most severe challenge since world war ii. at this hour workers are trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear

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